2017 was the year our homes got smarter than we did (be honest). The government commissioned a multi-million-pound campaign to convince us we need smart energy meters. Voice/AI finally broke through the market gap with gadgets seemingly starting to meet our needs. And the internet of things evolved from minority report hype into actual useful stuff that I could go and buy from Argos.
But whilst I can check I haven’t left the heating on from the other side of the world using my WIFI connected thermostat, the many utility companies I pay to provide me with a number of different services are far from smart with how they engage with me.
Don’t get me wrong, utility providers are enabling consumers to be smart with their services, but they’re not being smart with how they connect and share with consumers. Whether it’s the depressing, hard to read monthly DM pack Thames Water send me (a.k.a my bill), the bizarre sponsored social post I see from E.on letting me know that they’re doing something with a solar-powered caravan in South America with ‘Gorillaz’s’ or the non-existent email British Gas could be sending me with relevant energy saving tips tailored to me and my home.
My cosy flat in Oval, on the other hand, is smashing it when it comes to a personalised, timely and relevant conversation that puts me at the heart (and in control) of the relationship. Its thermostat gathers data on my behaviour to make my life easier and then plays it back to me in a weekly roundup email that visualises my usage and offers personalised tips on how to improve next time. Its energy meter has employed gamification mechanics in the form of achievements I can unlock for “my lowest total electricity usage this week” and 27 other moments of positive reinforcement that I’m now obsessed with adding to my virtual trophy cabinet. Even its central heating system is connected to beacons that track my location in the flat through an RFID bracelet so only the radiators I’m near heat up. Okay, I made that up.
As a creative in a specialist CRM agency, I’m no stranger to making campaigns that make your lives easier, communications that seem to magically know just what you like and creative that talks directly to you as a person, not a variant. But, I am a stranger to applying these tactics to the utility sector. So this year, top of my wishlist is to work on a utility brand where I can make their targeted comms work harder, and smarter, than my home.
-Kieran Child, Creative Head